Summer Feeding Information
Please see the links below regarding Ulster County Food Pantries and UCAT transportation.
Nutritious free meals are available for children and teens 18 and younger throughout the summer while school is out of session. The site below will help you find a summer food service program: www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks
HUNGER HOTLINE: 1-866-348-6479 for general information on applying for SNAP.
No Kid Hungry is proud to promote our summer meals texting hotline, which began in 2013 and is entering its seventh year of operation. This hotline, made possible through the generous support of the Arby’s Foundation, allows children and families to easily and quickly identify open summer meal sites in their area with the use of a mobile phone. In 2018, No Kid Hungry connected over 200,000 families with information about summer meal sites.
Simple to Use!
To receive information about open summer meal sites, users text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 and receive a text back prompting them to enter a street address, city and state and/or zip code for their desired location. While the hotline is able to return results for inputs that include only city and state and/or zip code, including a full street address will return results that are more accurate. The service then provides information about nearby meal sites, or information about how to access other food resources if no sites are operating in the vicinity.
What about Spanish?
The texting hotline also has a Spanish keyword! Text ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877 to find summer meal sites in Spanish, using the same process outlined above.
How does it work?
When users text ‘FOOD’ or ‘COMIDA’ to 877-877, the service is activated and prompts users to provide a street address, city and state and/or zip code. Upon doing so, users then receive a subsequent text or texts containing site locations, contact information and meal service times for up to three summer meal sites in their area. The database of open sites is drawn from an official USDA database that is publicly available and updated weekly. Share Our Strength staff upload this data onto an online platform that uses geolocation technology to connect hotline users to nearby sites. In instances where no sites are available, users are directed toward the National Hunger Clearinghouse hotline (1-866-3-HUNGRY; 1-877-8-HAMBRE) for additional assistance.
Help us spread the word!
The texting hotline, like summer meals, is only helpful to children and families if they know about it! Promotion of the hotline is therefore essential to achieving awareness of this tool and the programs they support. To spread the word, anti-hunger advocates and other community-based organizations have banded together and worked collaboratively with State Agencies to include information about the texting hotline on printed materials; featured the texting hotline in newsletters and press releases; and paired information about the hotline with kickoff events, social media messages, and both earned and paid media. In Dallas, for example, the Texas Hunger Initiative featured the texting hotline on posters placed in WIC offices and food pantries, leading to an increase in use of the service. If you are looking for ready-made outreach materials to promote both summer meals and the texting hotline, look no further than No Kid Hungry’s Summer Meals Outreach Toolkit.
Questions or concerns about promoting the texting hotline in your community?
Contact the No Kid Hungry Center for Best Practices for assistance. Hotline not working properly or providing inaccurate results? Send a brief message outlining the problem to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can address the issue.
I know there are sites in my area, but they don't show up when I use the hotline
If sites just began operation, it may be that State Agency data has not yet appeared in the USDA national database of open sites used to populate the texting service. The USDA regularly updates this database as information about new sites becomes available, so information about these sites should appear shortly.
For sites that do not appear within 1-2 weeks, they may not participate in the federal summer meals program, or may operate using the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (550), which is not captured in the database provided by the USDA. The 550 sites account for only a small minority of meal site locations. Users who notice inconsistencies in the data over the course of the summer are encouraged to email us and let us know.
I received a text that says there are no sites in my area. Why is that?
There are two likely reasons that no sites are displayed:
- Sites are operating or will operate, but data from the State Agency is still processing and has yet to appear in the USDA national site database used to populate the texting service.
- There are no open summer meal sites operating with in a 15-mile radius of a given address.
I texted my zip code and received information about sites in another state
When this occurs, the texting service has experienced an error in geocoding the address linked to a given site. This seems to occur most often in locations where State Agencies have yet to submit site data, and should resolve as information about local sites begins to populate within the online platform.
I received information about sites, but they are ten miles away
The texting service is programmed to provide information about up to three sites within a 15-mile radius of a given location. In areas where sites are less common, this may lead to results in adjacent communities to those in which users are located.
Will my child need to register at the site to receive a meal?
All results returned through the service are for open summer meals sites and are open to all children 18 and under. Meals are served at no charge, and there is no need to register, sign-in, or otherwise identify oneself .
Who pays for the meals?
All summer meals served to children 18 and under are eligible for reimbursement through federal Child Nutrition Programs of the United States Department of Agriculture.